National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval is often called the James Bond of India. To think that he had a flamboyant life like that British secret agent from the films would be nothing less than silly. Doval is real; he is considered as among the best spies in India’s history. He has an unassuming personality – Doval is not very tall – and yet the NSA commands the respect of his peers and trust of his subordinates.
India’s new defence policy, which is more pronounced, sharper, swifter and stronger, is because of Doval’s strategic vision in which the military plays a very important role.
So who is Doval? Here are a few facts.
1. Ajit Kumar Doval was born in 1945 in a village Pauri Garhwal in what is now Uttarakhand.
The village, Ghiri Banelsyun, is located on the way to Pauri from Landsdowne.
2. Doval’s father was Major Gunananda Doval, an officer of the Indian Army.
But not much is known about Ajit Doval’s family.
3. He completed schooling from Ajmer Military School and graduated with an MA in Economics from University of Agra in 1967.
He would later in his career be honoured with honorary doctorates from Agra University in December 2017 and Kumaun University in May 2018.
4. Doval qualified the civil services in 1968 and became an IPS officer of the Kerala cadre.
5. He spent many years in the northeast working undercover to gather intelligence on insurgent groups active there.
During this period he also spent time with insurgents inside Arakan in Rakhine, Myanmar, and deep inside China.
6. One of Doval’s greatest achievements in northeast was winning over 6 of 7 comrades of Laldenga and forced them to settle for peace.
Laldenga was the leader of the Mizo National Front (MNF), a secessionist group at war with India. In 1986, a peace accord was signed and he became the Chief Minister. So close was Doval to underground Mizo National Army chief Baikchchunga that Laldenga had to threaten to sack his army chief if he listened to Doval.
7. Doval is the youngest police officer in India’s history to have won the Indian Police Medal for meritorious service.
He was given the honour after just six years in service while the norm is 17 years. The reason was his phenomenal work in northeast. The award was given to him by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
8. It was after the northeast mission that Doval went to Pakistan.
He spent seven years there and even disguised himself on many occasions to gather intelligence information.
9. Lived in Pakistan as a spy for 7 years
Doval shares one of his experience in Lahore during spying, in an event:
He told that once he was coming out a mosque as he was undercover so he changed his appearance and way of wearing clothes so that no one can doubt on him. One man sitting at a short distance in a corner with long white beard called him to have a chat. As soon as he reached him the man said that you are HINDU. Ajit Doval refused and said I am a Muslim. The man took him through 4-5 streets and then into a small room. The white bearded man once again said that you are a HINDU. Ajit Doval refused and asked why are you asking it repeatedly? The man replied that he(Ajit Doval) has a piercing in his ear which mostly HINDUS prefer not MUSLIMS.Then ajit doval said that I was born a hindu but I converted to muslim. The man advised him to fill that piercing by plastic surgery. Ajit doval asked why is he so concerned about him? He replied that he is also a HINDU. To give ajit doval a proof he opened his cupboard and showed him small statues of Shivaji and Durgaji.
Watch the video of the event:
10. He was the first policeman to be honoured with the Kirti Chakra – India’s second highest gallantry award.
Doval was given the honour in 1988, a year before his Golden Temple infiltration.
11. When security forces charged inside the Golden Temple to get Bhindarwale out in 1989, Doval was inside.
The Operation Black Thunder was aimed at flushing Khalistani terrorists out of the holy place.
12. Managed to win the trust of hardcore Kashmiri militant Kuka Parray and his troops to become counter terrorists.
In Kashmir, Kuka Parray, later formed a pro-India militant group called Ikhwan. It was Doval’s work in troubled Kashmir which made space for elections in 1996.
13. In 1999, Doval was the key negotiator in the infamous hijacking of IC-814 at Kandahar, which let to freedom of hostages.
Doval would later reveal that had the Pakistani ISI not assisted the Taliban, the terrorists would not have succeeded in their mission. With this, Doval shot to limelight.
14. Between 1971 and 1999, Doval had prevented 15 hijackings of Indian Airlines aircraft.
15. He married to Anu Doval, who is a homemaker.
They have two sons named Vivek Doval and Shaurya Doval.
16. Before 2004, he had set up and was heading Multi Agency Centre (MAC) and Joint Task Force on Intelligence (JTFI).
The two bodies help bring all security agencies on a single platform and concentrate on counter-terrorism.
17. Doval got Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, pro-Pak Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the negotiating table.
A master of psychological warfare.
18. In 2004, the UPA government under Manmohan Singh made Doval the chief of Intelligence Bureau.
He was forced to resign in January 2005 because the then NSA MK Narayanan picked his former staff officer, ESL Narsimhan, as the next IB chief.
19. Before becoming the NSA, Doval set up Vivekananda International Foundation – a think tank of former spy chiefs and diplomats.
20. The Modi government brought Doval out of retirement and made him India’s fifth NSA.
21. In 2014, Doval played and important role to secure the release of 46 Indian nurses taken captive by the Islamic State.
Doval did his job very well securing their release, though how he did that will not be revealed for at least the next 50 years.
22. He introduced the Doval Doctrine – a security policy that India currently pursues.
He laid out the policy in two lectures in 2014 and 2015 in Tanjore and Mumbai. Doval said that India will have to move to Defensive Offensive strategy from the Defensive strategy it adopts against enemy nations such as Pakistan. It is this strategy which has resulted in key Indian counterattacks on Pakistani terrorists following major terror attacks.